The original Velocity has become something of a cult classic, launching initially as a Playstation Mini, it found itself in a very exclusive – and by that I mean small – group of really stand out experiences available in the Playstation Mini format. Since then the game has really boomed in popularity and even more so since with the advent of the high definition remake, Velocity Ultra. X2 is Ultra’s much requested sequel, and Futurlab hope to broaden the games audience further by distributing the game as free to Playstation Plus subscribers.
In Velocity 2X you assume the role of protagonist Kai Tana, a female spaceship pilot with a vendetta against the Vokh. Fighting a guerilla war against an overwhelming number of Vokh forces the game portrays its simplistic, but appropriate plot through still artwork and a text-based narrative. Dialogue at times brings to mind retro classics like Bionic Commando, offering just enough pretence and humour to make you invested in the characters cause, but not enough to over saturate the gameplay experience.
Indeed then, Velocity 2X’s focus is on the gameplay and rightfully so. Velocity 2X is both a side, and vertically scrolling shooter; as the gameplay switches between on foot, and within ship segments. The largest commonality between the two is present in the games teleportation mechanics, hold square to bring up a cursor, release it to teleport to the cursors location. It’s an interesting mechanic and one that feels natural over time. You’ll need to use this ability to overcome many of the games challenges, tasking you to teleport through walls, enemies, and even in more inventive ways with some intelligently crafted puzzles and bosses.
Core teleportation mechanic aside, the two modes of play differ fundamentally. While on foot Kai isn’t pressured by an automatically scrolling stage, and the self contained mini-levels that introduce themselves when you enter an airlock offer more of a metroid-vania esque feel. The game blends side-scrolling exploration, shooting, and fast-paced platforming with the aforementioned teleportation mechanic to produce gameplay that’s simultaneously both very engaging and demanding on the player. It’s can be little disorientating at first but becomes increasingly fluid as you progress through the games increasingly difficult stages.
Outside of the airlocks the gameplay takes place exclusively in Kai’s Quarp ship. In these sections the games levels scroll automatically, however if you want to backtrack to sections scrolled off the screen you can do so using a manually placed teleporter. In some stages this isn’t essential, but others require that you explore the maps multiple routes fully, destroying the various switches before you can progress. Each of the games stages has been intelligently constructed and requires that you use your head if you want to score the fastest times.
With a name like Velocity you would expect there to an emphasis on speed, and indeed there is. Each level is timed and in order to achieve the perfect grading a fast time is required. Subsequently, death as a result of damage from enemies, or being crushed against the scrolling camera is of little direct consequence but serves as a more organic punishment system, as each mistake makes the better times less achievable. This results in an experience with an incredibly high learning curve to master, yet one that’s still fundamentally easy to play and enjoy in lieu of aforementioned mastery.
Blasting through levels as fast as possible will become an addictive pleasure, even after you’ve completed the games main campaign, this is in equal part thanks to gameplay, audio and aesthetic design. The games speed is accompanied by a appropriately upbeat soundtrack crafted by award winning composer Joris De Man. It makes for a perfect fit and the games sci-fi themes blend idealistically with Joris’ techno beats. This is all layered onto simplistic yet provocative 2D visuals to produce an experience that will stand the test of time. Velocity X2 is not game that will age poorly, and its crisp vectors and special effects provide long term insurance on its visual beauty.
Bad Velocity X2 is a phenomenal product and it’s easy to see why Futurlab have such confidence in it. Based upon on the fundamental, and innovative mechanics from its prequel, X2’s highlight is perhaps the sense of playing a game that you really haven’t played before. Whilst Velocity takes clear inspiration from the classic side-scrollers of old, it also elegantly reinvents them into something entirely new. Blended together with a captivating soundtrack and timeless aesthetic, Velocity 2X makes for an experience that’s more than the sum of its parts; a sensational and unique game that’s something neither Vita, or PS4 owners should miss out on.
Velocity X2 is a phenomenal product and it’s easy to see why Futurlab have such confidence in it. Based upon on the fundamental, and innovative mechanics from its prequel, X2’s highlight is perhaps the sense of playing a game that you really haven’t played before. Whilst Velocity takes clear inspiration from the classic side-scrollers of old, it also elegantly reinvents them into something entirely new. Blended together with a captivating soundtrack and timeless aesthetic, Velocity 2X makes for an experience that’s more than the sum of its parts; a sensational and unique game that’s something neither Vita, or PS4 owners should miss out on.